FINS Bulletin – May 1, 2017

India, Lanka likely to sign port development deal

India and Sri Lanka may next week give final shape to a deal for jointly developing the Trincomalee Port in the north-eastern region of the island nation.
Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will arrive here on Tuesday on a five-day visit. His meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to focus on Sri Lanka’s offer to India for developing the Trincomalee Port. Modi and Wickremesinghe are also expected to discuss Sri Lanka’s proposal for India and Japan to jointly develop a Liquefied Natural Gas terminal in Trincomalee, sources told DH.
Both the deals are likely to be signed during Modi’s visit to the island nation next month to attend the celebrations marking the International Day of Vesak or Buddha Purnima.
Modi and Wickremesinghe will also discuss ways to speed up negotiations on the much-awaited Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement.
Colombo has put forward the proposal to India for developing the Trincomalee Port to strike a balance between India and China to allay New Delhi’s concern over Beijing’s bid to expand its footprints and build strategic assets in and around Sri Lanka.

Source: Deccan Herald,  April 23, 2017

9 lakh fake Facebook accounts suspended in Bangladesh after government requests crackdown

At least nine lakh fake accounts from Bangladesh was suspended by social media networking platform Facebook in the last three days. Media is being told that Facebook took such a measure after the Bangladesh government requested for it.
A source from the Bangladesh government said that at least three crore Facebook users are active in the country, and that the government found that at least three per cent of these accounts are fake. The government fears those behind the fake Facebook accounts are associated with militants and involve in provocative activities against the government. Complaints were filed by the government against the fake Facebook accounts and asked the social media giant to act up on it.
Facebook published a notification saying they are shutting down fake accounts due to security concerns and claimed that Bangladesh tops the list of countries that have maximum number of fake accounts.
Seeing a rise in the number of genuine accounts being shut down as part of this scrutiny, Facebook said people can get their accounts up and running after a verification process. Bangladesh’s State Minister for Post and Telecommunication Tarana Halim said that the fake accounts are used to provoke people on the basis of their religion and that rumours are rife about people behind such accounts being involved in militant activities.
Stating that Prime minister Sheikh Hasina, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and many other politicians are being demeaned through such fake Facebook accounts, Tarana said it is when this came to notice that the government organised a meeting with the Facebook authority and requested a crackdown of fake accounts.

Source: India Today April 17, 2017

US NSA McMaster adamant on defeating Taliban in Afghanistan

US President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. HR McMaster is adamant about defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan.
He said those members of the Taliban who refuse to join the peace process will be defeated on the battleground. “The Taliban must be defeated as well. They can be defeated in a number of ways. For those that are reconcilable, who are now willing to join their Afghan brothers to strengthen the Afghan state, to end the violence, to be part of the political process, I think your president and the chief executive officer they will welcome them back in. So it is their choice now,” Tolo News quoted Lt. Gen. McMaster, as saying in an interview on Sunday.
Speaking about the US bombing on Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Nangarhar, Lt. Gen. McMaster said that country would not tolerate the existence of such groups.
Asserting that terror groups like ISIS and Taliban are a threat to all civilized people, Lt. Gen. McMaster stressed on defeating all such groups. “Well it is not just the bomb (Thursday’s MOAB), but it is really what our soldiers are doing every day alongside courageous Afghan soldiers, fighting Daesh, ensuring that these people who victimised women, who shoot people in hospital beds, we cannot tolerate the existence of that kind of an organisation,” he said.
Commenting on Pakistan’s interference in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. McMaster said that Islamabad should seek its interests in Afghanistan or any other country through political channels and not through violence. “As all of us have hoped for many many years, we have hoped that Pakistani leaders will understand that it is in their interest to go after these groups less selectively than they have in the past and the best way to pursue their interest in Afghanistan and elsewhere is through diplomacy not through the use of proxies that engage in violence,” he said.
Lt. Gen. McMaster, who is on his maiden visit to Kabul after being elected as Trump’s National Security Advisor, will next visit Pakistan and India to assess the situation in the two countries and then report back to the White House.

Source: DNA, April 17, 2017

Taliban kill ‘140’ troops in Afghan base attack

As many 140 Afghan soldiers were killed on Friday by Taliban attackers apparently disguised in military uniforms in what would be the deadliest attack ever on an Afghan military base, officials said.
One official in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, where the attack occurred, said on Saturday at least 140 soldiers were killed and many others wounded. Other officials said the toll was likely to be even higher.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the government has yet to release official casualty figures.
As many as 10 Taliban fighters, dressed in Afghan army uniforms and driving military vehicles, talked their way onto the base and opened fire on soldiers eating dinner and leaving a mosque after Friday prayers, according to officials. The attackers used rocket-propelled grenades and rifles, they said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement on Saturday the attack was retribution for the recent killing of several senior Taliban leaders in northern Afghanistan
The NATO-led military coalition deploys advisers to the base where the attack occurred to train and assist the Afghan forces but coalition officials said no international troops were involved in the attack.
The Western-backed Afghan government is locked in a prolonged war with Taliban insurgents and other militant groups.

Source: TOI, April 22, 2017

Taliban using mosques, civilians’ homes as trenches in Helmand: Officials

Local security officials on Saturday said the Taliban militants used civilians’ houses and mosques as their trenches in Nawa district of southern Helmand province.
Two days back, Helmand security officials said they had launched operation to retake control of Nawa district from Taliban.
Brig. Gen. Abdul Hadi Tarin, deputy commander of 215th Maiwand Military Corpse in Helmand, while speaking to a press conference, told Pajhwok Afghan News that large number of militants suffered casualties during the ongoing operation in Nawa.
He did not provide exact figures, but said the Afghan forces took control of Ainak area of the district form the militants.
“The Taliban placed hundreds of bombs on roads, houses and mosques of areas we have captured from them, we would not advance until we demine these areas,” he said.
Acting commander for 505th Bost Police Zone in Helmand, Brig. Gen. Abdur Rahim Chakhansori said the Afghan forces were careful during the operation in order to prevent civilian casualties.
The Taliban turned people’s houses and mosques as their strongholds in Nawa but the Afghan forces try to ease the operation and let the people start their normal life, he said.
Hussain, an Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier in Ainak area of Nawa district, said the Afghan forces had significant advancements in their operation in the past three days.
“We can reach to the district center if the operation is going successful like now,” he said.
Abdur Rashid, another ANA soldier, said that they did not face any serious problems during the operation.
Taliban did not comment about the offensives. Nawa, once the most stable districts of Helmand, was fallen to Taliban militants about a year ago.

Source: Pajhwok News, April 15, 2017

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